When we started house hunting for a place up here, we had a list as long as your arm of requirements - at least 4 bedroom, big garden, not on a busy road but not too remote, village location, good school nearby, big kitchen, annexe/outbuilding for husband's gym and music equipment etc etc. We quickly realised that in order to get the size garden we wanted, we needed to buy an old property. We viewed some beautiful new-build properties, which had the ideal living space but a garden no bigger than a handkerchief! Once we had seen a few old houses there was no going back for me - I'd fallen hook, line and sinker for "period features"!
We must have seen about 30 properties before we saw this one, and were starting to think we'd have to majorly compromise on some of our requirements. This house is enormous (no stealth boasting here!) and is what basically sold it to us. As well as the spaciousness of the house, it has lots of garden, a converted stable block (for husband's stuff) and also a barn thrown in for good measure (the barn which caused MAJOR issues during the purchase, but that's another story!). It is Grade II listed, but we naively thought that wouldn't be an issue, as the previous owners had already done all the renovating and updating, and we wouldn't want to make any changes which would involve Listed Building consent.
We moved in at the end of January 2012 and approx. 2 days later the cold weather and snow descended on us. We quickly discovered the realities of living in a big, old house. It does have central heating, but it is oil fired so therefore expensive to run (and us being 2 tight accountants, we are too mean to have it on much!). The house has its original sash windows, which are beautiful, but very cold and draughty. The glass is so thin that any heat from the central heating is going straight out the window! When the heating is on, parts of the house warm up nicely. I say parts, as the downstairs hallway, drawing room and our bedroom never feel warm even with the heating going full pelt all day! However, as soon as the heating goes off, the house immediately feels cold. Thankfully we have 2 wood burners and an aga. The aga is on 24hrs (being our only source of cooking) and keeps the kitchen, playroom and living room fairly warm all day. The wood burner gets lit in the evening when the boys have gone to bed, and we are still lighting it every night even though it is nearly May! I won't tell you how much we have forked out on logs since we moved in! As sod's law would have it, we have just experience the coldest winter and spring since records began!
We are gradually getting the windows renovated - draught proofed and fully functioning (some were nailed shut or painted shut and others had huge gaps). We have also had the loft fully insulated for free by those kind people from British Gas. We are going to look into getting some secondary glazing and also maybe a more efficient and eco-friendy way of heating the house such as ground-source heating. But for now, we are making use of the thick, heavy curtains left by our predecessors, and lighting the fire every night! Roll on summer, when we'll be smugly enjoying our lovely cool rooms while the rest of the country sweats in their new builds!